White House Treatment Of Visitors Shows Inmate Re-Entry Challenges


President Obama says ex-offenders should have a shot at redemption. The White House's security operation hasn't always been on board, says the Wall Street Journal. Invited guests with convictions in their past have encountered an array of roadblocks when attending meetings with administration officials. Some have been denied entry. Others are assigned an escort. Several said they felt stigmatized by the experience. There are many factors that could prompt tighter security, including the rise of the Islamic State and worries about lone-wolf domestic threats. The Secret Service has also experienced miscues that have raised questions about Obama's protection. Those who have been stopped at the gate, among them leaders on criminal-justice issues, say their experiences reveal a disconnect between the administration's rhetoric and its real-life practices.

Their treatment shows how hard it will be to alter business and government practices ingrained through decades of use. “I was treated like a second-class citizen as a prelude to a conversation about how to overcome a criminal record,” said Glenn Martin, an ex-offender who is an advocate for reducing the correctional population and overhauling sentencing laws. As The Crime Report described last month, when he arrived at the Executive Office Building for a meeting about criminal-justice issues in June, his colleagues quickly passed through security, but Martin was detained before eventually receiving a bright pink visitor badge emblazoned “Needs Escort.” Martin wrote to Obama, calling his treatment “as insulting as it was indicative of the broader problem.” Six weeks later, he received a response that didn't address his specific situation but said Obama was committed to helping formerly incarcerated people re-enter society.

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